Round two of the 2012 Currie Cup premier division kicks off this weekend, with three mouth-watering clashes of the sort that only a strength-versus-strength competition can dish up. With a Springbok test against Argentina also to factor into the equation this week, be sure to keep an eye on the kick-off times, because there are some changes.
Cheetahs v Blue Bulls
The Friday night game (19h10 kick-off) sees Pine Pienaar’s Bulls, who won comfortably at home against Griquas, travel to Bloemfontein to face a Cheetahs outfit in search of their first win. The Blue Bulls played far better than their pre-tournament billing would suggest last week and despite a lack of big names on paper, look as though they will be a force in this competition. They’ve lost the impressive Arno Botha for this clash, but come up against a Cheetahs side that has made a stunning seven changes and must surely take some time to adjust. You’d fancy the more experienced Cheetahs pack and halfbacks would probably swing this result in favour of the home side this week, but not by much. Cheetahs to win by around 5 points.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Robert Ebersohn (captain), 12 Barry Geel, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Kabamba Floors, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Frans Viljoen, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Schalk van Merwe, 18 Francois Uys, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Philip Snyman, 22 Nico Scheepers.
Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Ulrich Beyers, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Clayton Blommetjies, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Ruan Snyman, 8 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 7 CJ Stander, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Cornell Hess, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Jan Serfontein.
Griquas v Western Province
The early Saturday clash kicks off at the unusual hour of 14h30 in Kimberley and features two sides that underperformed in the first round. Province held all the cards ahead of the Sharks’ visit to Newlands last week, yet somehow conspired to lose that game, whilst Griquas shot themselves properly in both feet at Loftus, with an ill-disciplined display of poorly-executed kicking rugby. Both sides have been forced into changes this week; Province have lost a huge amount of experience with Tiaan Liebenberg, Joe Pietersen and Dewaldt Duvanage all out this week, but do at least welcome back Duane Vermeulen, if only for a single half. Griquas have a virtually new backline too, after injury and suspension cut a swathe through the Loftus combination. It would be easy to back Griquas this week had they showed up for last week’s game; the fact that they didn’t makes it hard to call this one. Province, to be fair, showed little last week to suggest that they’ll yet be a threat in this competition and unless they’ve managed to drastically turn around their woes in the space of just a week, I fear the home side will prevail, perhaps by default. Griquas to win a squeaker – perhaps by 2 points?
Griquas: 15 Francois Brummer, 14 Wilmaure Louw, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Wesley Wilkins, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Ligtoring Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (captain), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matt Dobson, 17 Janro van Niekerk, 18 Frikkie Spies, 19 Jaco Nepgen, 20 Marnus Hugo, 21 Walter Venter, 22 Richard Lawson.
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Ederies Arendse, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Jebb Sinclair, 6 Tyrone Holmes, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie (captain), 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Yaya Hartzenberg, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Damian de Allende.
Sharks v Lions
The Lions are certainly the form team after the first round, but the 10-million Dollar question this week is exactly what effect the decision to remove them from Super Rugby will have on the players’ morale and attitude ahead of the weekend. The Sharks weren’t great against WP, but showed great mental strength to win there; they’ve also picked a stronger team this week and should probably be able to contain the Lions at home. Unless, that is, the Lions deliver one of their famous “so pissed off they play well” performances, like they did in Johannesburg earlier in the year. My call, though, is that it will be a dejected and defeated team that rolls into Durban and that the Sharks will win by 10 or more.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 S’bura Sithole, 10 Riaan Viljoen, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Jacques Botes, 7 Jean Deysel (captain), 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Jandré Marais, 19. Lubabalo “Tera” Mtembu, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Marius Joubert, 22 Gouws Prinsloo.
Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Joshua Strauss, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (captain).
Replacements: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Guy Cronje, 22 Ruan Combrinck.